A stakeholders' consultative meeting, which aimed to come out with preventive measures to address the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and help Ghanaians live a healthy life, has taken place in Accra.
The meeting, organised by the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, was also to identify a specific set of priorities within the overall non-communicable agenda, with the view to implementing effective national responses for the prevention and control of the disease, while achieving universal health coverage.
In an address, the Minister for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, expressed government's concern about the plight of people living with non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, neurological disorders, mental disorder, asthma and diabetes, among others.
Dr Agyemang-Manu said government was, therefore, considering a tax hike on tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks to reduce the burden on the health infrastructure and serve as a means of revenue to fund health.
In a statement, Prof George Gyan Baffour, Minister for Planning, pledged government's preparedness to partner with civil society organisations to address the menace while achieving universal healthcare in the country.
Speaking on what has been done for the health sector, Dr Kyei-Faried, Head of Disease Control and Preventive Department, Ghana Health Service, said the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had strengthened the Multi-sectional Advisory Committee on NCDs and established tobacco control and non-communicable diseases focal persons at health centres.
On the way forward, Dr Kyei-Faried said there generative health and nutrition programme would be integrated into non-communicable disease control program within the GHS.
He, however, called on government to place a ban on tobacco use as it contributed to non-communicable diseases and to institute the periodic evaluation of non-communicable diseases.
On her part, Dr Mrs Beatrice Wiafe, Chairperson of the Ghana Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, explained that although non-communicable diseases were not transmissible, the main risk factors were exposure to tobacco smoke, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.
According to Dr Wiafe, non-communicable diseases accounted for 41 million deaths every year, equivalent to 71 percent of all deaths across the world, with over 85 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle income countries.
She said the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases was an urgent development issue as the disease and their risk factors worsened poverty even though poverty itself contributed to the rising rates of the diseases.
Source: ISD (Chantal Aidoo & Esther Atubiga)